Democracy now a memory, says Rahul as Cong protests price rise, no jobs

Attacking the government on issues like inflation, rising unemployment and a hike in GST rates, the Congress on Friday took to the streets and put all its might.

The leader of the charge was himself a Gandhian. Rahul Gandhi said India is witnessing the “death of democracy” and those who stand against “the beginning of dictatorship” are being “badly attacked”, arrested and imprisoned.

Addressing a press conference before leading a demonstration in which Congress leaders and MPs were dressed in black, Rahul countered the BJP’s argument that it was winning the people’s mandate, saying that Adolf Hitler also used to win elections with the support of institutions. He claimed that no institution in India, including the courts, is independent today and every institution is under the control of the BJP/RSS.

Congress took out two marches simultaneously. Led by party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, Congress MPs came out of Parliament in a procession. The idea was to march up to Rashtrapati Bhavan but they were stopped and detained outside Parliament by police. At the same time, senior Congress leaders came out of the heavily barricaded 24, Akbar Road headquarters with a plan to march up to the Prime Minister’s residence.

All the leaders and MPs including Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were detained by the police and taken to Kingsway camp station. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also joined him there.

There was a dramatic scene outside the AICC headquarters in which Priyanka jumped over the police barricades and sat on the road in the glare of the entire media. Like others, he too was picked up by the police personnel and put in the police vehicle. A total of 64 MPs have been detained, the party said.

Those detained included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who came dressed in a black kurta and turban, and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former Union ministers P Chidambaram and Sachin Pilot.

Addressing the press at the AICC headquarters, Rahul said, “How are you enjoying the beginning of dictatorship in India? … How do you feel about the death of democracy?”

“What we are witnessing is the death of democracy. That is what India is witnessing. What India has built brick by brick, starting almost a century ago, is basically being destroyed in front of your eyes. All of you know it. The whole of India knows it. Anybody who stands against this idea – of the onset of dictatorship – doesn’t matter who he is, where he comes from, which state, which religion, male or female… he is viciously attacked, put in jail, arrested, beaten up,” he alleged.

“The idea is that people’s issues, whether they are price rise, unemployment, violence in society… people’s issues must not be raised. That is the sole agenda of the government and the government is being run to protect the interests of four or five people and this dictatorship is being run in the interest of two or three big business people by two people,” he said.

Rahul claimed there is no democracy in India today. “It is a dictatorship by four people. We want to raise the issues of price rise, unemployment and the attempts to divide society… We want to discuss this here and in Parliament. We are not allowed to speak. Debates are not allowed in Parliament. We are arrested. This is the situation of India today,” he said.

“Democracy is now a memory in India. It is nothing more. And it also has side effects. You will see that this is going to have disastrous consequences. Because the people of India are not going to remain silent.

The reality of price rise and the perception created about it, he said, is completely different. For instance, he said, the reality of the Start-up India programme is different from what is on the ground. Similarly, the government’s claims on Covid-19 deaths and unemployment are completely different from reality. “They lie 24×7. There is no price rise, China has not intruded,” he said.

He also hit out at Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman when he was asked about her remark that India’s macroeconomic fundamentals are strong. “The macroeconomic fundamentals that she is talking about is something else. I don’t think the Finance Minister has any understanding of what is going on in the economy of India. Zero understanding. She is there as a mouthpiece. She has absolutely no understanding.”

“If she had understood… we would not have been in the situation we are in. The entire job creation system of India has been destroyed. Small and medium businesses have been wiped out. We have a GST which is a disaster. Ask any state and they will tell you this… the GST is a disaster. We have the highest unemployment… price rise across the board and the Finance Minister is saying there is no problem,” he said.

He alleged that every institution is under BJP/RSS control. Asked about the Supreme Court’s verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act relating to the Enforcement Directorate’s power of arrest, attachment, search, and seizure, he said, “all the institutions of India are in the control of the BJP and the RSS.”

Asked about the Supreme Court, he said “Saare ke saare. Ek nahin bacha hai. Saare ke saare (All of them, without exception. All of them).”

On why the Opposition is unable to exert pressure on the government on issues like price rises, Rahul said the Opposition fights with the help of institutions in a democracy.

“The country’s legal structure… the judicial structure, the country’s electoral structure, the media, the Opposition stand up on their strength. All those institutions are supporting the government today because the government has filled up these institutions with their people. No institution in India is independent today. Every institution in India is today controlled by the RSS… So we are not fighting against a political party… We are fighting against India’s entire infrastructure,” he said.

On the BJP’s claim that it has been repeatedly winning elections, he said, “Hitler too came to power, winning an election. Hitler too used to win elections. And how did he win elections? Because the institutions of Germany were in his hands… Give me the entire structure and I will show you how to win the elections,” he said.

“When we were in power, the infrastructure used to be neutral. We never used to control the infrastructure… Today, the entire infrastructure is with the government. Financial infrastructure… if somebody wants to support another political party… the ED, and CBI goes after them. They are coerced and threatened. So the BJP/RSS has a financial monopoly and monopoly of the institutions. So that is why the Opposition is not able to effectively… aggressively… it is doing. But the impact that should have been there being not seen,” he said.

Asked whether he had anticipated his or Sonia Gandhi’s arrest in the National Herald case, he said, “You do what you want to do. It does not make a difference. It does not matter. You have to understand this. You have to understand the culture I come from. It does not matter. I will be the happiest person.”

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